Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Animal Abuser Registry Bills

There are two bills in the WA State Legislature now, which if passed would create an animal abuser registry similar to the sex offender registries. The bills are HB 1800 (2011-2012 summary) and SB 5144 (2011-2012 summary). (The PDFs of the actual text of the bills can be found here: SB 5144 and HB 1800.

This animal abuse offender registry would be publicly available on the internet, and the information posted would include the person's:
"name, date of birth, residential address, all animal abuse offense convictions, conviction dates, county and state of convictions, the person's photograph and such other identifying data as the attorney general determines is necessary for the public to properly identify the person, but shall not include the person's social security number."

People from outside WA or who were convicted elsewhere of offenses that would be considered cruelty in WA would be included too, if they were residing or staying in WA.

Everyone who had been convicted of an animal abuse offense as an adult would be listed until their death or until 10 years after their last conviction.

Here are the offenses listed as animal abuse offenses that would require a person to be listed in the registry:

"(2) "Animal abuse offense" means the commission of any act that
21 constitutes the criminal offense of:
22 (a) Animal cruelty in the first degree (RCW 16.52.205);
23 (b) Animal cruelty in the second degree (RCW 16.52.207);
24 (c) Animal fighting (RCW 16.52.117); and
25 (d) Poisoning animals (RCW 16.52.190)."

Please note that animal cruelty in the second degree is a misdemeanor and requires no intent to injure, neglect or in any way harm an animal.

In Washington State, 2nd degree cruelty can be as simple as trying to treat an animal's illness yourself rather than calling a veterinarian (as in the case of Hola the Llama), coloring the fur or feathers of ducklings or chicks for sale, or transferring ownership of an animal on public property (defined as cruelty in CCC 8.11.070 (10) ).

Also, in some municipalities in Washington, the animal fighting statutes are so vague that having a fight break out spontaneously between two animals in a herd or flock could qualify. For instance, the City of Asotin, WA states in their city codes under the cruelty statute, 6.20.010, "No person shall cause or permit any dog fight, cock fight, or bull fight, or other combat between animals." [Emphasis added]

I have hotlinked the citations to the laws above so you can see exactly how each offense is defined in state law, but counties and cities within WA have their own definitions that are often more restrictive than state law.

The Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington has the laws of many counties and cities in Washington listed on their website's City and County Codes page.

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